New York State’s national ranking for reaching low-income students with school breakfast dropped from 39th in the 2014-2015 school year to 42nd in the 2015-2016 school year, in the annual School Breakfast Scorecard released by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), a national anti-hunger advocacy group.
The Scorecard ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia on the participation of low-income children in the School Breakfast Program. New York’s ranking is based on the finding that 49 of the state’s low-income children ate school breakfast for every 100 that received free or reduced-price school lunch during the 2015 – 2016 school year. That is below the national average of 56 low-income children eating school breakfast for every 100 who received school lunch during that year.
Although the state’s ranking dropped, the report placed New York State among the top 10 states for its percentage of growth in free and reduced-price breakfast participation. On an average school day in 2015 – 2016, 615,689 low-income New York State children participated in school breakfast. This represents a seven percent increase over the previous year, translating to an additional 40,234 free and reduced-price-eligible students eating breakfast each school day.
School breakfast participation has been growing in New York State due to the use of strategies to increase participation, including alternative breakfast models such as breakfast in the classroom, grab and go, and second chance breakfast. However, the state’s decreased ranking can be attributed in large part to the lack of widespread implementation of alternative service models
While FRAC’s Scorecard shows an overall increase in school breakfast participation across the country, millions of low-income children are still missing out. FRAC has set an ambitious, but achievable, goal of reaching 70 low-income children with school breakfast for every 100 receiving school lunch.